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March 1, 2007




IF you, like many New Yorkers, already thought Miami's South Beach was an extension of Manhattan, check out what's happening now. Not only is the area chockablock with New Yorkers and New York-style buildings, we're talking sky-high New York prices, too.

Take the still-sizzling South of Fifth (SoFi) area, which already includes high-end projects like Continuum (where a 277-square-foot cabana famously sold for $850,000 three years ago) and Apogee (a sold-out Related Group of Florida development with 67 units, all larger than 3,000 square feet).

It's here, at 455 Ocean Drive, that the Savoy hotel-condo development is looking to make its mark as the latest, greatest Miami playground for New York buyers.

"The difference with this building is that you're actually on the sand," says New York-based Prudential Douglas Elliman broker Dolly Lenz. "It's a very different experience because of location alone. Not everybody can be right on the beach."

Lenz, who is now spending about half her time in Miami handling sales for the development, says she already has more than 400 inquiries for the 111 Savoy units, with expected asking prices in the $600-to-$2,000-per-square-foot range and a scheduled completion in late 2008. (Plans call for 30 ocean residences and 57 hotel-condo units ranging from 563 to 3,700 square feet on Ocean Drive and 24 lofts one short block away on Collins Avenue.)

Lenz expects the Savoy units will be briskly snapped up by her core high-end New York and northeast buyers. (She's buying a unit herself, as is Prudential Douglas Elliman chairman Howard Lorber.)

"Most of the inquiries have come from New York," she says.

Other South Beach properties commanding New York prices include the Setai on 20th Street and Collins Avenue, where a 2,500 square-foot, three-bedroom penthouse sold for $5.8 million ($2,300 per square foot) last month.

A 1,300-square-foot, two-bedroom bungalow at the forthcoming Costas Kondylis-designed W South Beach Hotel & Residences on 22nd Street and Collins just sold for around $4.5 million, and another is close to selling for more than $5 million, according to New York-based developer David Edelstein. That would be more than $3,750 per square foot, putting it into the stratosphere of coveted units at 15 Central Park West and the Time Warner Center.

And, hoping to stretch the boundaries of South Beach, the Cipriani Ocean Resort and Club Residences on the 3200 block of Collins Avenue wants $1,250 to $3,000 per square foot for its units.

"The high end of Miami's market continues to flourish. It's not surprising to see sales higher than $2,000 per square foot, but the average sales are going to be a little less," says Miami broker Mark Zilbert of Zilbert Realty and, who points out that resales at the Setai have "remained relatively modest, at a price point that has leveled off at about $1,600 per square foot."

Yes, that big number qualifies as "modest" in a market with such fancy-pants buildings.

"Many high-end buyers are willing to pay a premium to get the properties they want," Zilbert says. "The boom is clearly [being caused] by second-home buyers."

And with many buyers coming from New York City, it's no surprise that they're getting New York-level amenities.

A conversion/expansion of an 80-year-old landmark building that once housed Rolling Stone Ron Wood's nightclub, the Savoy will have its units and spa furnished by Fendi Casa. Buyers can expect all the perks of a white-glove building, as well as a restaurant with indoor and outdoor dining, private jet service, Rolls-Royce shuttle service and personal chefs.

"You have to have the 24-hour room service, the name spa, the fitness center, the fantastic restaurant - everything New Yorkers are comfortable with and know," Lenz says.

A Mr. Chow and a Bliss Spa are coming to W South Beach. A David Barton Gym + Spa and a Philippe Chow restaurant will be at the new Hotel Gansevoort South/Paradiso project (with units from $600,000 to $12 million) just down the street.

Since NYP Home last wrote about Miami in December, blockbuster restaurant openings have added heat to two residential projects.

There's Table 8 at the Regent South Beach hotel condo on 15th Street and Collins, where under-500-square-foot, one-bedroom units are on the market for about $1,500 per square foot. The restaurant, an outpost of Govind Armstrong's successful L.A. eatery/celebrity hangout, resembles a more playful, hipster Union Square Caf�.

And then there's David Bouley Evolution at the Ritz-Carlton on Lincoln Road. It's mere steps away from the sales center for the Ritz-Carlton Club and Residences South Beach, but that project, with units from around $1 million to $17 million is actually being built more than 10 blocks north on 29th Street and Collins Avenue.

"I think Miami has done a 180-degree about-face in the last 10 years as far as cleanliness, upscale restaurants, upscale hotels and an unrivaled night scene," says Andrew Heiberger, founder and CEO of New York City's Buttonwood Real Estate. "And as opposed to more country-club style places in Florida, it's a more youthful place, with more cultural diversity."

Heiberger personally purchased three pre-construction units at the Setai, including a 1,350-square-foot two-bedroom he bought for $690,000 and flipped last year for $1.65 million.

"The funny thing is, it's probably worth $2.2 million now," says Heiberger, who adds that "you can go to any of the pools at hotels like the Shore Club or the Setai or the Delano and identify many New Yorkers on lounge chairs. On any given weekend, if you go to one of the five to 10 top restaurants down there you're going to bump into five to 15 acquaintances [from New York]."

Last week's South Beach Wine and Food Festival definitely had a New York feel.

The talk of the town during the festival was Jeffrey Chodorow's letter-writing skills. The star of Thursday's Burger Bash was Shake Shack. While Bobby Flay and Dave Lieberman hung out at the Food Network Awards, the chefs drawing the biggest crowds at a Friday tasting event held simultaneously included Momofuku's David Chang and Aquavit's Marcus Samuelsson. And the hot ticket Saturday was a tribute dinner honoring Le Bernadin's Eric Ripert and Maguy Le Coze with food prepared by Daniel's Daniel Boulud.

"You're really starting to see all the same people here in Miami," Lenz says. "You see them in New York and then in the Hamptons and then here."

Like at December's Art Basel Miami Beach, where it seemed like half the high-end real-estate brokers in Manhattan were in attendance. In fact, one of the biggest Art Basel parties was the launch of Mondrian South Beach, a hotel-condo project handled by Corcoran Sunshine Marketing.

When we visited Miami in November during the Miami Book Fair, 40 Mercer and William Beaver House developer Andre Balazs, who lives in SoHo, threw a party at his Raleigh Hotel in South Beach for a book co-authored by Kurt Andersen, who lives in Brooklyn Heights.

But perhaps the best example of the eerily close connection between New York and Miami is this: Lenz was recently jogging in South Beach when she noticed a familiar face on the boardwalk. That's not exactly a remarkable occurrence, but "the last time I saw the guy was that same day in the elevator in the Park Imperial," she says, referring to the West 56th Street building 1,300 miles away from Ocean Drive. "It's so beyond bizarre. How likely is that to ever happen in your lifetime?"

The way things are going in South Beach, it soon might not seem that unlikely at all.




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